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Thread: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

  1. #1

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    Default Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Hello, drumchat folks! I thought I'd introduce myself and ask a few noob questions. I'm 43, happily married, have two kids ages 12 and 9, and am returning to the drums after a 25 year estrangement.

    To make a long story short, I had some natural talent and a year or so of lessons, practiced/jammed with a few wannabe bands but never performed "for real", and then packed up the drums when I graduated high school in 1984.

    I still have the five piece black Pearl set with New Beat hihats and a no-name crash and ride. Other than some pitting on the chrome hardware, the drums are in great shape. I set them up every few years, and surprise myself at both how much I can still play, and how rusty I am. A couple of years ago put new Evans heads on everything, in a short-lived burst of ... something.

    I've never really been able to STOP playing the drums. I play along with whatever music is playing, on the steering wheel or my legs or the table - I'm sure you know how it is. When I hear a good song on the radio, I can't help but visualize myself in the drummer's seat, playing along.

    I'm at a point in my life where I feel the need to fish or cut bait. I want to take a shot at playing drums "for real." If I can't keep it going, I think I need to surrender the dream, stop calling myself a drummer, sell the kit, and get on with my life. The "I coulda been a contender!" feeling is too pathetic.

    So, I just set up the drums in the basement again, ordered the Groove Essentials DVD and companion set (they should arrive today), printed out a sheet of rudiments, and started watching some of the many free drum lessons available online.

    I'm going to take a shot at this.

    So, some questions:

    1. If you started playing later in life, and/or have busy family life, how do you keep from being overwhelmed and discouraged? I feel like there's too much to learn, both about hardware, important drummers, and playing techniques, and too little time!

    When I see videos of some 19-year old prodigy who has been playing since he was 3, or older guys who have been playing for decades, it's hard to simply appreciate them and be inspired, and ignore the voice in my head that says "it's hopeless" or "what's the point?"

    Now, I don't expect or even hope to ever be as skilled as they are or to give up my "day job" and become a celebrity drummer. It best, I hope to jam with friends or or gig at "open mics" or maybe play in a "real band" a couple times a month.

    How do YOU (older folks especially) stay motivated when there's so much to learn and so little time?

    2. Should I spend some money on private lessons? With the wealth of free material out there, or inexpensive DVDs, I'm not sure lessons are worth it. On the other hand, I can see where an expert observer might really help me avoid noob mistakes and get off to a strong start.

    3. I'm thinking of picking up a Yamaha DTXpress IV Special V2 so that I can practice in the evenings after the kids are in bed. I can get it online for about $1300, which is already pushing my budget. Is it overkill? Is there better bang for less buck out there?

    I sincerely appreciate any advice or suggestions you may have for someone in my position.

    I'm sure I'll have a million more questions, but the UPS truck should be here any minute, and I can't wait to tear into Groove Essentials...

    -John

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Hi John and welcome to our Drum Chat family.

    1. Put the prodigies out of your head. That's like comparing your income to the baby's that are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. The most important thing you can do is just take one day at a time and enjoy the process.

    2. Yes, some private lessons will be very helpful to you. It will stave off bad habits (assuming you have a good teacher) and set you correctly on the right path. You don't have to take lessons for years but I do advise working them into the mix in the beginning.

    3. I haven't kept up with the more recent electronic kits since my old Roland TD-7's from years back. I'll let the other guys address this one.
    - Tom

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  3. #3
    Larrysperf Guest

    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    I think its great and dont get discouraged as Im older than you and still learning. But that is the fun of it.

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    My friend you are never too old to start out or in your case to continue. I turned 60 in July and two years ago I picked up where I left off in the early 90's. For me it is a passion. It's something that I thought I could do without, but found out that it is just too much of a part of me. I have no expectations of playing full time. I do play in a fun type band that gigs about once a month or I just enjoy jamming with friends. I also bought a good set of headphones and I can put in a CD and jam with anyone I wish.

    Go to YOU TUBE and check out Levon Helms the drummer for the BAND. Levon is in his I believe 70's and still going strong. He just released a new CD and has a "Midnight Ramble" at his place in Woodstock NY almost every weekend with many music legends that stop by to jam with him.

    So believe me you are never to old to continue your dreams no matter what extent you intend to go with them. The main thing is that you are persuing your dreams.

    So go out and have fun and don't take things too serious. John

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    It's never too late!

    I also played instruments in high school, but never practiced because I wasn't motivated. Now that I'm older, I find I push myself much harder to be a better musician than I did back then.

    Get a private instructor, practice the things you are NOT good at, and you'll be amazed how quickly you'll progress.

    ~~Zildjian League~~

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    John, let me first say welcome to the board. There are several here that have started later in life.....just remember, you are playing for fun. You said yourself, youre not giving up your day job. 99% of us here havent given up the day jobs either.

    Once you play drums, you really cant just quit ( as you have already found out ). As suggested I think lessons are probably a good investment in the beginning to get yourself back in the saddle so as not to pick up bad habits and then go on from there.

    As far as thr E-drums go, that sounds a bit expensive to me, I think you can get something descent for a lot less. Im going to let the experts chime in with their comments on them, Im an accoustic drummer.

    Best of luck
    slot # 1

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  7. #7

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    I started played 2 weeks ago (I'm 36 with kids/wife).

    As far as "prodigy" drummers go, who cares. I mean really. What difference in YOUR life does it make if this person or that person can do this or that?

    You'll get discouraged if you let yourself get discouraged. Figure out what your realistic goal is and work toward it. If your realistic goal isn't to one day drum for a top band somewhere, then none of that stuff makes a difference.

    I'll give you an example. My initial goal is to play very well for my church. Therefore, I don't need to be some prodigy or drum for 30 years or be Mike Portnoy. And my secondary goal is to enjoy the music and have fun with other musicians (actually, this isn't secondary in ranking as having fun is a top priority).

    As for lessons from a pro, that's a good thing. Personally, it's not in my budget right now. Also, to me, it's not like it was back in the 80s and before. There is so much content out there from pros/instructors that you can learn a ton. However, I do plan to mix in some lesson next year as the budget allows. If you can swing it, go for it. That 1 on 1 time will serve you well.

    Bottom line, figure out what your *realistic* goal is, work toward that and enjoy your time. It's easy to get caught up in things that don't matter to your own personal situation. Enjoy the act of drumming and being apart of the drum culture.
    Last edited by RebelRed; 11-04-2009 at 05:39 PM.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Thanks for the warm welcome, advice, and encouragement! I think RebelRed's advice to set realistic goals is great. Playing in a Rush tribute band is probably not realistic, huh? At least not for a few years...

    Some goals, then, in no particular order:
    1. Take lessons for a few months, to build a solid foundation.
    2. Learn, practice, and move towards mastery of all the rudiments.
    3. Learn Groove Essentials chapter by chapter, at whatever pace is necessary, to really master each one. (As Tommy says, it isn't a race.)
    4. Make time to just put on the headphones and jam along with my favorite tunes, to keep it fun.
    5. When I'm ready, try to find some like-minded musicians to play casually with.

    I'm still thinking that the electronic kit is going to be necessary for me to practice regularly without disturbing everyone. I'll ask around for more input there.

    Thanks again,

    -John

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Welcome to the DC!!!
    number 2 is key. I know rudiments are boring I know, however they are key to the fundamentals and can be done without a kit or drum. Just a pair of sticks.

    I have a TD6 for midi triggering and it is very helpful on the quiet factor however just know striking the drum pads makes some degree of noise.

    Anyway have fun. Remember this is fun.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    John, we have a few things in common. After 10 years of not playing, I gradually got into it again. I still had musician friends that played out, so I would sit in on a couple of songs. After a couple of years of doing that, I purchased a set and started practicing again. I found these guys at work and formed a band. We all have our day jobs and our families to raise. We've all done the local cover band thing, so we decided to make it originals ONLY. Two years later, we have a CD coming out on Amazon.com in a few weeks. Here is a couple of things why it works for me:
    1. The idea of achieving Fame and Glory is long gone...its back in my mid-20s (along with my mullet).
    2. Drumming is my hobby, something personal that I do...others play sports (golf,tennis, etc.)...I play the drums.
    3. I don't take lessons. I play only what comes easy to me. I don't care if the 14 year old next door, can play 32nd notes with his Axis pedals.
    4. I play only for my personal enjoyment and nothing else.
    You know what, I am more into drums now that I've ever been ! I hope you find your way in playing drums again. Rock on, brotha !
    Last edited by nio; 11-04-2009 at 08:33 PM. Reason: punctuation...

  11. #11

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    I just started looking at that Groove Essentials. It looks pretty good. Definitely gives you a lot of practice material.

    As for practicing, I spent about $50 for a set of drum mutes. Works great. I don't play past say 6 or 7 pm though. At night I find I can either mute my snare a ton to practice rudiments or play on something else. For me, spending $1000+ for an e-set just for a little extra practice is pointless. However, if I worked all day until that time, an e-kit would end up being mandatory.

    Having friends that play an instrument is very cool. If you don't really have any, find some. :D

    Play for the fun and love, not to try and impress people.

  12. #12

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Hey John, I think everyone else has pretty much given the advice you're looking for. So I'm just gonna say welcome to DrumChat!

    You'll find there are plenty of folk your age here, and older (though I'm not one of them lol).
    - Zack

  13. #13

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    I work at a high school, so in theory I can come home and practice for an hour or so right after school, but in practice I often have to help my kids with homework, run errands, or take care of the occasional honeydew list. Still, I bet I can get in a good practice session a few times a week, and drill rudiments on a practice pad after hours.

    I have to avoid the urge to do everything at once, and instead build up some confidence and momentum. I'm going to have a MUCH easier time convincing my wife to let me invest that kind of money if I've been taking lessons, practicing, improving, and enjoying it for a few months. Once she sees it isn't just another "flash in the pan" she's more likely to buy into the idea. I think if I can get either or both of my kids hooked, that would go a long way, too. We can gang up on her.

    I know a few musicians, but I'm not ready to start jamming with anyone yet. A couple months of lessons and practice and we'll see...

  14. #14

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDiFrancesco View Post
    1. If you started playing later in life, and/or have busy family life, how do you keep from being overwhelmed and discouraged? I feel like there's too much to learn, both about hardware, important drummers, and playing techniques, and too little time!

    When I see videos of some 19-year old prodigy who has been playing since he was 3, or older guys who have been playing for decades, it's hard to simply appreciate them and be inspired, and ignore the voice in my head that says "it's hopeless" or "what's the point?"

    Now, I don't expect or even hope to ever be as skilled as they are or to give up my "day job" and become a celebrity drummer. It best, I hope to jam with friends or or gig at "open mics" or maybe play in a "real band" a couple times a month.

    How do YOU (older folks especially) stay motivated when there's so much to learn and so little time?

    2. Should I spend some money on private lessons? With the wealth of free material out there, or inexpensive DVDs, I'm not sure lessons are worth it. On the other hand, I can see where an expert observer might really help me avoid noob mistakes and get off to a strong start.

    3. I'm thinking of picking up a Yamaha DTXpress IV Special V2 so that I can practice in the evenings after the kids are in bed. I can get it online for about $1300, which is already pushing my budget. Is it overkill? Is there better bang for less buck out there?

    I sincerely appreciate any advice or suggestions you may have for someone in my position.

    I'm sure I'll have a million more questions, but the UPS truck should be here any minute, and I can't wait to tear into Groove Essentials...

    -John
    1. As a sixteen year-old I can hardly say that I can relate to your situation, but all I can tell you is that age doesn't matter. Playing "for real" means nothing, and "having a shot" isn't what it's about. Stop thinking about what you can be and what you want to try, and just do what you WANT to do. Play some music you like, and make sure to spend at least 30 minutes a day "jamming". Whatever comes to your mind is what should flow through your hands and feet.

    2. It's not worth it. Sure you might get better quicker, but then it will be like you're roped in, and that's the only way you'll have "learned to learn". I wise man once told me "perfect practice makes perfect", and I take that to heart. I practice every day aiming to practice better than the last and make it worth doing.

    3. I don't have a job and I'm a student, so that's like $1,300 over budget for something unnecessary. I just use a practice pad.

  15. #15
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    I know a guy that was frustrated because he couldn't play as fast or in a complex manner as one of the top stars of the day. He almost quit cold, thinking he'd never be that good. He turned out to be Eric Clapton.

    I remember 43 1/2... it was an ok year.

    Seriously, I know people that started on drums in their 50's and have a ball. I know I can't worry that Tony Royster jr could play circles around a lot of adults at 16. I also know pro drummer like Thomas Lang are something I have no hope of achieving.

    However... none of that stops me from enjoying the drums, listening to new music and instructional drum dvd's every day. Enjoyment or personal best, age is irrelevant. Louis Bellson played into his 80's...right up until he passed away.

    Never say can't. Engage your passion for the drums full on.

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    I definitely recommend formal lessons. It'll do a few things for you:
    1) He/she will give you ideas of things to practice you may not have ever thought about on your own, thus expanding the types of music you can make.
    2) While YouTube videos and books can show you how to do things, they can't tell you if you're doing them correctly. You might think you've got good posture or a good grip, but you could really be developing bad habits that may lead to injury down the road.
    3) You'll be accountable to someone for your progress, so you'll be more likely to practice and continue improving.

    Some might disagree but I think formal lessons are invaluable. I recommend it 100%.

    As for e-kits, if you're going to buy anything go straight for Roland. Yamaha makes good modules but they only use rubber pads and those things suck. They feel nothing like a real drum head! Cheaper brands, like Simmons or Alesis, use even worse rubber heads that are so stiff that unless you have a super light grip you will absorb a lot of the shock into your arm and develop pain in your elbow. You'll want mesh heads, which means you're looking at a Roland TD9SX ($2,000). Those things are great, and I actually want to get one myself, but nothing compares to an acoustic drum set.
    ^^^ SGD's Evans Empire ^^^

  17. #17

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Welcome to Drum Chat JohnDiFrancesco!

    John, I started scratching the drumming itch when I was 52. I had never played drums before, although I had wanted to when I was quite young. At 52, I got bit by the drumming bug again, and I thought if not now, when? I've played for about 2 1/2 years now, and I have had lessons for about 1 1/2 years of that. I am a very busy pastor, but I make sure that I get mental health time on my kit, and when I get frustrated because I think I should catch onto something faster than I do, my teacher reminds me how far I've come. Today, I was doing some different syncopations with my teacher, and I intermittantly did fine, and then I would start overthinking, and I would lose the feel. That got me a little frustrated, but my teacher pointed that I was dead on the beat throughout, and it is a natural talent that I have. I just have to relax and keep working, and it will come along just fine. To me, that little encouragement that chases away frustration is worth everything that I pay for lessons.

    I'm not doing this for fame and fortune, just for enjoyment. At the same time, though, I really want to push myself to be the best that I can be. Also, today my teacher told me that her husband (a bassist) is completing a tour, and that she will schedule a time for dinner with them and then time in their studio where her husband can play his bass along with me to give the feel of locking in with the bass. John, if you can find a teacher like I did, it is definitely worth it.
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  18. #18

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    I've a TD9K (or TD9S in the States... 'kit' versus 'set') and would recommend them, although it's true about the rubber pads- get all mesh if you can afford it. I don't mind the rubber pads as toms to play on, especially as the rims on the 8" mesh make these pads awkward - I can't believe Roland have just released a TD4 with 6" mesh toms! - but you likely will get sore elbows if you play a lot (especially over a certain age...I'm in my fifties ).

    The only other thing is that they're far from quiet. The kick in particular can be a problem, especially for people living in apartments or if you're upstairs. Not so much noise as vibration, although the slapping noise can be an irritation to some as well. Jury is generally split over the KD8 versus the KD85 kick-- many prefer the rubber kick of the KD8, and you save some money, but again, it's noisier than the KD85 if noise is a concern.

  19. #19

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    John,

    I started playing a year ago, i'm 31 1/2 now, i was the guitarist in the band i'm in and we couldn't hold down a drummer so i switched to drums, I've never looked back, I had lessons for about 9 months but with work, family, band practice and gigs i had to stop them, i picked it up quite easily but i think it was from already playing a instrument so it came kinda naturally to me, I have so much fun playing and yeah i sometimes get discouraged but i plough through it and the feeling soon goes, the technique that cause me the most problems was the slide pedal, Something as simple as that but if you can't do it it becomes the most difficult thing in the world, after practice i got it though. Everyone on this forum is ver helpfull, i have learned so much from them and all there experience, from simple stick holding to gigs, agents, mics the lot, stick around and become part of the crew.

    Welcome.

    Mark
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  20. #20

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Once again, thanks to everyone for your advice and encouragement. I've made contact with a teacher who I'm going to check out. My initial idea is for him to help me avoid any bad habits, set up a practice regimen between rudiments and Groove Essentials, and to help me when I get stuck or frustrated. Then we'll go from there.

  21. #21

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    Thumbs up Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    John, from the look of it you're getting good advice so I can't really add much to it. I did some jazz drumming over 50 years ago. Nothing professional, just gigs with trio/quartet. Went to college, got married, had kids and left the drums behind. Well, I decided to start up again last year at age 71. Wanted to see if I still had some chops. All I can say is that if I can do it so can you. Take the good advice from here and never look back. Heck, I'm never going to be a pro but if I can find some old cats who want to jam - look out!!

  22. #22

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    These are the threads that make me love this board.

    Find your inspiration by playing for YOURSELF!! Play to meet your own goals. Make sure to set goals, because youll never hit a target that you dont aim for............or sumthin like that. The crew on this board alone will keep you motivated and provide a wealth of knowledge!!!! PLAY OR DIE!!!
    Somebody open a window, cuz this boy is FUNKY
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    Iron Cobra, Sabian, Evans, Pro-Mark
    Currently laying down grooves for my power funk trio Off The Hook and The Sho Nuf Blues Kings.

  23. #23

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Quote Originally Posted by old doc yak View Post
    John, from the look of it you're getting good advice so I can't really add much to it. I did some jazz drumming over 50 years ago. Nothing professional, just gigs with trio/quartet. Went to college, got married, had kids and left the drums behind. Well, I decided to start up again last year at age 71. Wanted to see if I still had some chops. All I can say is that if I can do it so can you. Take the good advice from here and never look back. Heck, I'm never going to be a pro but if I can find some old cats who want to jam - look out!!

    Good on ya , DOC!!
    Somebody open a window, cuz this boy is FUNKY
    Old School Mapex Funk 7 piece
    Iron Cobra, Sabian, Evans, Pro-Mark
    Currently laying down grooves for my power funk trio Off The Hook and The Sho Nuf Blues Kings.

  24. #24

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    Default Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Quote Originally Posted by old doc yak View Post
    John, from the look of it you're getting good advice so I can't really add much to it. I did some jazz drumming over 50 years ago. Nothing professional, just gigs with trio/quartet. Went to college, got married, had kids and left the drums behind. Well, I decided to start up again last year at age 71. Wanted to see if I still had some chops. All I can say is that if I can do it so can you. Take the good advice from here and never look back. Heck, I'm never going to be a pro but if I can find some old cats who want to jam - look out!!
    Welcome to Drum Chat old doc yak! It just goes to show that once you've been bitten by the drumming bug, you are infected for life!
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  25. #25

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    Cool Re: Starting over at age 43 1/2 (but who's counting?)

    Who's counting, John? Welcome aboard, man!

    I began studying drumming in 1984, at age 32! That was 25 years ago, when most of my drumming buddies from high school had gone on to other interests.

    As pastor_bob noted, I had the itch to play drums, but didn't seriously start scratching it until then! Some of the best drummers--and fastest learners--in this forum are those who started relatively late in life...

    but as a friend of mine from my radio days used to say, "it's never too late to start and it's always too soon to quit."

    (By the way, old doc yak, if you need a conga player for that band, this kid of 57 is ready to jam...)
    keep the beat goin' ... Don't keep it to yourself!

    Charlie

    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." --Henry David Thoreau, "Walden," 1854

    "There's a lot to be said for Time Honored tradition and value." --In memory of Frank "fiacovaz" Iacovazzi

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